Frequently Asked Questions

Commonly asked questions about the Thames CPD programme

1What is Continuing Professional Development?

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours that you gain both formally and informally as you go about your work beyond any initial training. It is a record of what you experience, learn and then apply. The term is generally used to mean a physical portfolio documenting your development as a professional. Common in all sectors – from transport to aviation to deep sea shipping - to improve safety and skills through continuous development.

Sometimes it is mandated by professional organisations or required by codes of conduct or codes of ethics. But at its core it is a personal responsibility of professionals to keep their knowledge and skills current so that they can deliver the high quality of service that safeguards the public and meets the expectations of customers and the requirements of their profession.

2What is the Thames CPD Programme?

The Thames CPD programme was introduced in July 2021 as a voluntary scheme with the intention of becoming mandatory in two years’ time. Participants are required to achieve a minimum of 150 points across the three categories of Mandatory Courses; Accredited Training; and Skills & Experience within a five year period. The programme is free to join.

Governance of the Thames CPD scheme is through the Thames CPD Governance Committee which comprises the PLA, CWL, TSA (as administrator of the scheme) and employers reflecting the breadth of the industry on the Thames. The CPD Programme shall be governed and administered in a way that does not discriminate on the grounds of gender, race or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, marital status, creed, nationality, disability or age.

3Why is CPD being introduced on the Thames?

CPD is being introduced to improve safety on the Thames. In many other sectors – transport, aviation, construction – CPD is a well-established pathway to help encourage employees to maintain and refresh their current skills and learn and develop new skills as the industry changes. In a modern world the pace of change is significant, and we all need to keep pace with changes and developments. As an example, the pace of change with mobile phones, since the introduction of smart phones, and the revolution in power units in the automotive and marine industries have and will see significant changes in the way we work.

4Is CPD mandatory for all Masters and Unsupervised Watchkeepers?

All Masters and Unsupervised Watchkeepers on the Thames are strongly encouraged to participate in the Thames CPD programme. By joining early, employees and employers can help shape the programme to best meet their needs and the needs of the industry before it is mandatory. The PLA, TSA and CWL feel that participation in the programme by operators and crew will bring significant benefits to both the individual as well as to overall safety on the Thames.

The ability to effectively demonstrate continuing development and experience on the Thames is a key factor for maintenance and re-validation of the Thames Local Knowledge Endorsement and as a result the Thames CPD programme will mirror and support the LKE re-validation process. It is seen as a significant step to help demonstrate to authorities and interested parties the professionalism of its holders. Similarly, those aspiring to hold a National Boatmasters Licence or Thames Local Knowledge Endorsement will be better placed to succeed in these assessments if they have already taken part in the CPD process.

5Why should I do CPD?

Effective CPD acts as a practical record of your career learning. The scheme allows you to structure your development and reflect on your career, to explore measure and test the limits of your competency. It is about recognising you have more to learn and shows others that you are learning. By participating in the CPD programme you will be able to:

  • Build competence and credibility
  • Further improve safety on the Thames
  • Plan and achieve your career goals by focussing on your training and development
  • Cope positively with change by constantly updating your skill set
  • Be more productive and effective by reflecting on your development and highlighting gaps in your knowledge and understanding
  • Maintain and boost Thames operators’ collective profile and credibility as a profession
  • Identify gaps in your skills and capabilities
  • Demonstrate your career development to clients, employers and interested parties

6What counts as CPD?

Professional development is not just about taking part in formal learning activities, for example attending a course or workshop. There is a broad range of learning and development activities that may be undertaken for your professional development and it is recommended that you engage in a mix of activities that include work-based learning, professional activity, formal / educational activities, and self-directed learning. The PLA, CWL and TSA have produced a structure with respect to CPD which suggests typical CPD activities and gives guidelines for the maximum number of CPD points that may be accrued. These will continue to be updated according to changes and needs within the industry.

Persons taking part in the Thames CPD Scheme are required to obtain a minimum of 150 points over the 5-year CPD cycle with a mid-cycle check at 2.5 years.

7What is the difference between Mandatory Courses, Accredited Training and Skills & Experience within CPD?

The PLA, CWL and TSA recognise a broad range of activities that are suitable for CPD, these fall into three categories – Mandatory Courses, Accredited Training and Skills & Experience.

Mandatory Courses include core safety courses, such as first aid training, personal survival and firefighting. Each participant is required to complete all three courses at least once during the 5-year cycle. Records of attendance for verifiable CPD activities should be kept and will be checked as part of the audit process.

Accredited Training includes continuing education (part time, full time, distance learning) leading to qualifications or certificates, such as higher-grade qualifications (e.g. MCA Master 200). In addition, it includes other accredited training courses approved by the MCA or other regulator that meet certain standards in terms of quality and content of training. Each participant will be required to achieve a minimum of 50 points from this section. Records of attendance for verifiable CPD activities should be kept and will be checked as part of the audit process.

Skills & Experience activities include tripping on other vessel types, attending industry meetings or TSA / CWL supported webinars on industry related topics and visits. The values of experience is recognised in this section with participants able to earn 5 points for every 5 years‘ experience to a maximum of 20 points.

8Is there a minimum number of hours CPD I need to do?

Yes. Any person participating in the Thames CPD scheme is required to achieve a minimum of 150 points over the 5 year CPD cycle – this averages to approximately 3 days training per year over the 5 year period.

9What happens if I wish to undertake training that is not on the list of courses or training?
Should you wish to undertake training activity not listed in the CPD requirements document then you should first consider whether this training will support your own development within the industry. In this case you should make a request to the CPD Governance Committee by emailing via the Contact Us page. If accepted, points will be awarded at the rate of 10 points per full day of training.
10Is there a form or template that I need to use?

Yes. During the voluntary phase of the CPD system you will need to indicate your interest in taking part in the Thames CPD Programme by filling out the form on the Join Now page. Once registered you will be provided with a CPD log to record your training and development which should be maintained along with supportive documents to evidence your CPD. You will submit the log to the CPD team every time you complete training activity.

11In addition to maintaining my CPD activity log are there any other records I need to keep?

Yes. In addition to maintaining your CPD activity log, and sending it to the Thames CPD administration when you undertake training activity, you will be expected to maintain your own separate records to provide evidence of some of the CPD activities which you have undertaken. Such records may be required should your CPD activity be audited.

12What should I do if I have trouble completing the Thames CPD requirements?

Should you have difficulty in completing the required activities for Thames CPD then you should first discuss this with your employer. Further guidance, particularly for those self-employed, can be obtained from the TSA and CWL who will be able to provide details of forthcoming training opportunities.

13Are CPD schemes operated by other professional bodies recognised under this programme?

The Thames CPD Scheme has been tailored specifically to support the professional development of those working on the Thames and so other CPD systems would not be accepted in lieu of the Thames CPD Scheme. However; completion of courses, training and other activities undertaken within the framework of an alternative CPD programme may be appropriate to provide points towards the Thames CPD programme. Confirmation of this should be obtained from the CPD Governance Committee by emailing via the Contact Us page.

14Will my CPD Activity Log be checked?

Participants in the Thames CPD Programme may be subject to a random audit at any time during the 5-year CPD cycle to confirm that the Thames CPD Policy has been or is being met in full. If you are selected for audit you will be notified that you will be audited and given a reasonable time before the audit takes place. During the voluntary phase of the CPD programme roll out, this will provide valuable insight to help inform the programme.

15I work part time in the industry, am on long-term absence from work or am prevented from carrying out CPD for reasons beyond my control?

If you wish to participate in the Thames CPD Scheme and are prevented from carrying out CPD for any reason, please initially contact the Thames CPD administration by emailing via the Contact Us page.

16How do I register for CPD?

You can register for CPD by providing your details on the Join Now or by emailing via the Contact Us page to request a form to complete. Once registered you will be provided with the CPD guidance document and a form to record your activities, which should be maintained along with supporting documents to evidence your CPD. The form should be sent to the Thames CPD administration team every time you complete CPD training and development activity.

17I have another question

If your query has not been answered here please email via the Contact Us page or call 01322 917 553. You can also find information about the programme on the Thames Skills Academy's CPD page

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